The Daily Mail says Villa is available, possibly on a loan deal until the end of the season, which means he would not interfere with Chelsea’s long-term pursuit of Radamel Falcao.
Benitez accepts it will be difficult and expensive to prise the Colombia striker Falcao from Atletico Madrid next month but this swoop may be more achievable in the summer.
Villa provides an attractive short-term solution for Chelsea. At 31, Spain’s record goalscorer does not fit their ideal profile for young players with their best years ahead of them but he is fading from favour at the Nou Camp and knows how to dovetail with Torres after their years together at international level.
Villa is understood to earn £110,000 a week, which is near the top of the Stamford Bridge pay structure but not out of reach.